Back in December, one of my predictions for the year ahead was that “pressure will mount for more reliable fuel consumption figures”.

I went on to state: “Quoted mpg figures rarely reflect real-world fuel consumption figures, as fuel economy figures are established under controlled laboratory conditions, hardly reflective of real-life driving situations. Recent research by the International Council on Clean Transportation found that on average real-world fuel consumption figures for new cars was 21% below those quoted by vehicle manufacturers.

As a guide, the AA recommends assuming a car will do 25% less than that officially claimed by the vehicle manufacturer.

So a campaign is underway to adopt a new global test, the World Light Duty Test Procedure (WLTP), which on the driving cycle alone sees fuel consumption figures on average 5% higher. If adopted by the EU, it could be applied to new type-approvals from 2016/17.”

That could have major repercussions for fleets because taxes, according to some sources, could rise by up to 35%! 

The potential tax backlash arises because the more accurate fuel efficiency figures would lead to a rise in reported CO2 emissions. While the new test would only apply to new vehicles, not applied retrospectively, the same model falling under 120g/km might then fall within the 131g/km and above band, resulting in a higher employee BIK tax bill and higher employer Class 1A NIC, not to mention VED.
The WLTP has been given the go-ahead by the United Nations Economics Commission for Europe, although understandably vehicle manufacturers are opposed and do not want the current testing arrangements to be replaced until 2021 at the very earliest.

Already the EU has set a weighted average CO2 emissions target of 95g/km for new cars, which vehicle manufacturers will have to meet or face a fine of ?95 per car. So while the EU wants change by 2017, the WLTP could be delayed to at least 2020 when new CO2 targets are due to be introduced.
Whatever the final decision, what is clear is that company car drivers and their employers are likely to pay more if they stick to the same type of vehicles. They will either have to swallow the extra cost as a bitter pill or else look to downsizing, or at alternative sources of power.

Ultra low-emission vehicles may become a more attractive proposition and help vehicle manufacturers in achieving their weighted average CO2 emissions target.

One thing’s for sure: all parties concerned will be closely watching the Government to ensure that they are treated fairly during the transition phase.
My prediction on increased pressure for more reliable fuel consumption figures may have come true, but when we actually do receive more real-life mpg figures is anybody’s guess.